What is Self-Care and Why is it Important?

Carrie Mead, MS
Professional Life Coach

Self-care is a buzzword that we have all heard but I wonder how many people really know what it means to care for one’s self.  I would wager to say that people talk much more about this topic than actually practice a regular and consistent self-care routine.  Statistics often speak louder than words and on Instagram alone, the hashtag #selfcare has been used more than 21 million times and the combined uses of all the self-care hashtags reach well over 30 million posts! So, it is evident that people are talking a lot about self-care but there’s no evidence that people are putting their words into action. 

To be clear, self-care is a concept, not an action. The concept of self-care is broad and highly individualized. The practice of self-care is unique to each of us. How much alone-time, girl-time, exercise, yoga, meditation, or hiking you need to feel rejuvenated and restored totally depends on you. Your version of self-care today may look completely different than it did a year ago or even one week ago.  And that is okay. You are growing and developing as a person and therefore your needs are changing too.  We all go through different seasons of life and in transition our needs change. The point is, you need to figure out what fills you up, lightens your load, and creates joy and ease in your life.  Only you know.

Today’s self-care could be 15 mins of silent meditation, running a marathon, serving hot meals to the homeless, or playing with your puppy. A year ago, self-care could have looked like a day at the spa, ice-fishing with your buddies, or reading a chapter from your new favorite self-help book. If you are a new parent or a working parent, self-care could just as easily be a long,  hot, shower, a trip to the grocery store alone, or an uninterrupted cup of hot coffee in the morning.  

As you can see, there is no right or wrong way to care for yourself. Ultimately, only you know what you need and only you can make self-care a priority. Your mother may buy you a gift certificate for a massage or your best friend may offer to babysit so that you and your spouse can enjoy a date night but you, and only, can make this happen.  

You have probably been putting your needs on the back-burner for a while. Be honest, how long has this been going on? What’s preventing you from taking better care of yourself? Is it guilt? It is feelings of unworthiness? It is poor judgment or negative chatter in your head? Is it an unhealthy perspective on the importance of productivity and achievement?  The truth is that if you are not taking good care of yourself, you absolutely cannot take good care of anyone else. If you have people (or pets!) who depend on you, you owe it to them to take better care of yourself. When are you are feeling refreshed, reenergized, and joyful you are in a much better state to give lovingly to others. 

Take a minute to write down a few ideas for your self-care routine. What would you love to do if you found yourself with 15 minutes extra tomorrow morning? What would you love to do if an entire day opened up or imagine a whole weekend without any plans? Write down some ideas so that next time you find yourself with an unexpected opening in your schedule, you will know exactly what to do!

If you need help discovering who you are and what you need, contact me. Having an objective and wise guide on your path of self-discovery is a great idea. If you have been living on auto-pilot, you may have no idea who you are or what will revive your spirit. If you are transitioning into a new phase of life such as retirement or becoming an empty-nester, you may suddenly find yourself with an abundance of time. It’s too easy to fall into apathy and depression when you are unsure of your purpose in the world. I would love to help you rediscover yourself, your passions, and your God-given purpose. Contact me at: curiositylifecoaching@gmail.com to learn more. You and your loved ones deserve this, so don’t delay!

Carrie Mead is a Professional Life Coach, Psychotherapist, and Reiki practitioner based in Maryland. Carrie created Curiosity Life Coaching to help men and women successfully navigate major life transitions such as retirement, divorce, career changes, and loss. Carrie provides guidance, support and empowering exercises to help her clients redefine and enact on their life’s mission following a major life transition. Connecting authentically and compassionately forms the basis of all of Carrie’s personal and professional relationships. Carrie holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from McDaniel College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Gettysburg College. Learn more by visiting www.curiositylifecoaching.com

The benefits of hiring a professional life coach

We all go through periods of time when we could benefit from some wise, objective, and thoughtful support to reach our goals.  Friends and family can be great for offering advice, but life coaching isn’t about advice-giving.  Life coaching is about empowering you to identify your desires, set your intentions and then, of course, achieve your goals.  

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a working mother, a college student, a highly respected expert in your professional arena or just starting your adult life, life coaching can be beneficial to your personal and professional development.  Although many niches exist within the realm of life coaching, all coaches have one common goal and that is to help you, the client, set and achieve your goals.  This is why I feel so strongly that everyone can benefit from professional life coaching.   

Maybe as you read this, it occurs to you that you don’t have a clear goal or sense of direction for your life.  What a great realization!  Life coaching can assist you in getting clear on your values, your purpose and your passions. Through this process, undoubtably, goals will arise and hopefully excitement will arise about the possibilities for your future.

If your interest is piqued, here are some brief exercises of self-discovery to help you hone into the aspects of your life that are flowing in the right direction and where you need to direct extra attention. Make time for yourself to sit quietly and thoughtfully with the questions below. Have some materials nearby for taking notes; I prefer pen and paper, but you may prefer taking notes on a computer or dictating thoughts into your phone. No matter the method, it’s important to take notes! 

Do not rush the process, self- discovery and intentional inquiry take time. These exercises are designed to get you off auto-pilot and back into your present life. If you enter this exercise with an open and curious mind, you will have a lot of fun and discover something unknown about yourself.  

  1. When is the last time you experienced overwhelming joy? What were you doing? Who were you with? What surprised you by your joyous reaction? Describe this time in detail in your notes and replay it in your mind as if it were happening now.  Engage your five senses. What do you see, hear, smell, feel and taste as you recall this memory?  What stands out about this memory or experience?
  • How and when do you know when you are in the flow of life?  What are the signals you receive internally (i.e. sensations in your body, physical health, dreams or thoughts in your mind) and externally (i.e. how do you engage with others and how do they respond to you)? How can you create more of this in your life? Is there a specific action, thought or way of being that might help you create this experience again, no matter what’s going on around you?
  • Reflect on just one major area of your life such as your profession, your finances, your romantic relationship or your spiritual practice.  Is this area of your life as fulfilling and abundant as you want it to be? Are you dedicating time and energy to this area?  If so, how?  Be specific. Does this area of your life bring you joy, pride and a sense of fulfillment? Or does this area leave you with a sense of dread, regret or fear?  Are you possibly ignoring this area of your life simply because you don’t how to move forward or are you over-focused on this successful area of life while ignoring less appealing aspects of your life? Be honest with yourself. Describe your thoughts, feelings and intentions around this subject.  At a later time, you can repeat this exercise with another focus.

As you have worked through these teachings, reflect on what you have learned.  Have common themes or patterns arisen? If so, are these patterns facilitating your growth or impeding you?  Reflection is a process, so pay attention to what arises for your in the coming days and weeks as you continue to think through these self-discovery lessons.  

The experience of receiving life coaching is a way to discover unknown aspects of ourselves, and, perhaps most importantly, make changes in our lives so that we are truly living the life we desire.  Without action steps, the self-discovery is somewhat inefficient. What good is it to understand all aspects of ourselves- known and unknown; light and dark; positive and negative- but then do nothing to make adjustments accordingly? Taking action and bridging the gap between where you are today and where you want to be is a key component of life coaching. With this in mind, a professionally trained life coach will assist you in creating and executing a strategy for your life.

Again, the benefits of creating the plan without follow-through are quite limited.  I believe all of us have had ‘great plans’ that never materialized. This is a common human experience. With a life coach by your side, you are sure to take to those action steps. Think of your life coach as your accountability partner.  This means that as you create your plans and make commitments to the steps of your plan, your coach will hold you responsible for taking the steps. That doesn’t mean you must complete each step exactly as planned, but it does mean that you will explore, adjust and refocus if you find you are unable or unwilling to stay on task.  This is a fundamental part of the process of coaching. And, all the while, you are supported by your coach.

Are you intrigued? Do you want to know more? Are you ready to get started?  I would be happy to answer any questions you have or to offer you a free phone consultation to assess if I would be the right professional life coach for you.   As with all healing professions, not every coach is right for every client nor is every client right for every coach.   This free consultation will help us find out if we’re a good fit for one another. I look forward to hearing from you when the time is right.

You can reach me,  Carrie C. Mead, by email at: curiositylifecoaching@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook @curiositylifecoaching, Instagram @curiositylifecoachandreiki or the web at: www.curiositylifecoaching.com.